Sierra Leone’s former military chief shot dead

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 December 2016

Sierra Leone’s former defence chief of staff lieutenant general Samuel Omar Williams was shot dead by unknown gunmen at his home in Freetown in the early hours of this morning, according to police report. (Photo: S.O Williams in the centre).

The military chief retired from the army in April 2016, after a snappy cabinet reshuffle by president Koroma in March this year, and was replaced by his assistant John Milton.

His assassination comes just few months after another former military chief of Sierra Leone Major General Claude Nelson Williams was kidnapped in Nigeria, by criminal gangs whilst serving as Sierra Leone’s deputy high commissioner to Nigeria. He was later released after the government paid what was understood to be a hefty ransom.

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Tips for safe driving in Sierra Leone during the festive season

Victor Mengot

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 December 2016

If you look at the pages of the newspapers in most African countries today, one will notice the high rate of road accidents, especially during the festive seasons.

The main cause is that there is an increase in pedestrian movement, vehicle traffic, and a proliferation of street traders on the road – all trying to make extra income to satisfy the needs of their families.

This is also the time when people are traveling to their home towns, chiefdoms and villages. There is also the tendency for people being absent minded at this time, especially if they are wondering about how to succumb to the many requests from family and friends who also want to share the Christmas spirit or welcome the New Year with a bang.

So if you are a driver in any of our African towns or cities, this is a time for you to apply all your safe driving and accident prevention skills.

Another point to note is that Christmas and the New Year is a period when a number of Sierra Leoneans living in Europe and North America return home to celebrate with family and friends.

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Charity begins at home – does that include politics?

Abdulai Mansaray

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 December 2016

When President Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh conceded defeat in the recently concluded democratic elections in The Gambia, the world breathed a collective sigh of relief.

But it was not the “jovial” and satirical manner in which he declared his acceptance of the result, in a widely publicised telephone conversation with President elect Adama Barrow that shocked the world.

It was the mere fact of the unthinkable; that he actually accepted the will of the people, leaving the political world in shock and awe.

Many people, especially Gambians, saw that telephone conversation as the end of an era and the dawning of a new path .But some cynics and sceptics who profess to know him better, were very reluctant to pop the champagne.

And so it came to pass, that against the backdrop of hope against hope, Jammeh reverted to type and decided not to disappoint the sceptics.

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Will the Sierra Leone opposition SLPP party survive its latest knockout blow?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 December 2016

The Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) is in the habit of knocking itself out every now and again – a habit it has come to perfect, since losing the 2007 elections. But will it recover from yesterday’s bout with its own demon?

Yesterday’s resolution passed by a group of its National Executive Council (NEC) members, to suspend a number of their fellow executive officers, including the party chairman and leader – Chief Somano Kapen, has brought the party closer to the edge of disintegration.

Although the party has faced serious instability, chaos – and many would say anarchy, since it lost the 2007 presidential and general elections, there are questions now as to whether the party can seriously recover from what looks like a palace coup – staged yesterday by a group of NEC executives, believed to be supporters and sympathisers of presidential aspirant – Julius Maada Bio.

The suspension of the party leader and chairman – Chief Somano Kapen – in abstentia, also raise doubts about the constitutionality of yesterday’s NEC meeting and the validity of the resolutions passed.

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Breaking news: Armed men attacked the home of Sierra Leone opposition SLPP leader – Alie Kabba

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 December 2016

The Sierra Leone Telegraph has received a report from Freetown, about an armed attack which took place at the residence of opposition presidential hopeful – Mr. Alie Kabba in the early hours of this morning.

Four men believed to be soldiers, attempted to break into his home. But after several attempts which lasted over one hour, the heavily armed men left the premises.

The editor of the Sierra Leone Telegraph has spoken with Mr. Alie Kabba about the incident. Speaking from the USA where he is on vacation, he confirmed that heavily armed men – dressed in para-military uniform and believed to be soldiers, this morning attacked his home.

He said that his security men who were at the house, called the police for help several times, but got no response.

Kabba told the Sierra Leone Telegraph that: “This is an apparent escalation of targeted harassment and intimidation of opposition figures in the country. If this is another attempt to silence me, then they have failed once again, because I will continue to speak about the suffering of our people and the weak in our society. Political intimidation and the abuse of power should have no place in our democracy. But it seems the culture of impunity and the abuse of power have become deeply woven into the psyche of those entrusted with power. This must stop, so that Sierra Leone’s democracy and peace can be allowed to flourish.”

It is almost one week to the day – 23rd of December, 2015, that Mr. Alie Kabba was arrested by police in Freetown, on what many in Sierra Leone believed to be a politically motivated arrest.

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Yahya Jammeh’s grand finale – can Ecowas leaders pull him back from the brink?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 13 December 2016

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari, Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma and Ghana’s John Mahama are in Banjul – the capital of The Gambia today, Tuesday, 13th December 2016, to persuade Jammeh to accept the results of the presidential election and stand down unconditionally.

Gambia’s president Jammeh is a man unknown for doing things in half measures. He is more than an extrovert. He loves power and cannot stomach the thought of not being in control of the Gambia.

He is a larger than life character who strongly believes that one day the whole world will come knocking at his door begging for something that only he has the power to provide – well – after God that is.

When he claimed several years ago to have found a cure for Aids, no one came knocking. Instead, many thought he was mad. He was not amused.

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African American politicians must lead on Africa’s affairs

Benjamin Talton

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 December 2016

A Donald Trump presidency has grave implications for US relations with Africa. His meteoric political ascension ushers in an era of right-wing domestic  extremism  and  international disregard.

Trump has exhibited an unabashed lack of interest in Africa. This is a continent where numerous countries play a key role in the US war on terrorism. Africa’s geopolitical importance also extends from its numerous natural resources, which are essential to global manufacturing industries. Other areas of import include its growing population, China’s broadening involvement, and rapid democratisation in many countries.

Trump’s lack of substantive interest in African affairs is worrying. But his disregard presents a unique opportunity for progressive leadership to shape US foreign policy.

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